Directing Vision: Observations while completing a mural.

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” -Japanese Proverb


Similar to completing any task in life, painting a mural is also the progression of multiple steps over time, working towards an end result. For me it all starts with a vision, and that vision is sketched out on paper, from there it is drawn on the wall with layers upon layers of paint, eventually achieving the final product.

Along the way on the journey toward reaching my goal, I find myself catching glimpses of other opportunities that are trying to get my attention. I call these other opportunities “rabbits.” Like a hound dog, I want to chase these rabbits while I’m already pursuing the goal ahead of me. However, over the years I’ve learned that the more rabbits I chase at once, the more likely it is that I don’t catch any.

I have been able to, with adequate success, effectively exercise restraint in chasing rabbits over the years while staying focused on a project. Surprisingly, what has been even more of a challenge to suppress are the “mosquitoes.” Mosquitoes are the tiny obligations and distractions that are buzzing in my ear as I work. I find myself wandering to thoughts of self-doubt, that appointment at 3:00, the check-engine light that just came on and other buzzing sounds, calling for my attention, when I listen to the mosquitoes.


So how do I take a vision and see it through to completion?

These are several things I remind myself as the “rabbits” run and “mosquitoes” buzz about in my peripheral vision.

#1: HOW BAD DO I WANT IT?: Is my passion aligned with my vision?

Usually when I want to complete my vision with passion I compartmentalize the tasks that would become “mosquitoes” and write down the “rabbits” that I want to chase later. I see the end result with clarity when I am passionate about getting there.

#2: PUT IT OUT THERE: Where is my paper and pen?!

Time lapse video of this mural

I need to write it down, sketch it out, or tell my wife my idea. Sometimes I will tell anyone who will listen or happens to be there at the moment my vision and passion align. What this does for me is takes this mist of a thought and brings it into the world of the tangible. The vision has now materialized! It is not complete, but this thought is now in the realm of reality.

#3: SHOW UP: Let’s get after this!

The best version of myself needs to be present. The days of my youth when I would treat my body, mind and spirit poorly and then turn around the next day and attempt to be 100%, does not work for me this day and age. I’m not convinced it even really worked for me back then. If I am passionate about something and I want to achieve it then I do not want to be a ‘leftover’ version of myself as I am in pursuit. God, my family, myself and everyone I come in contact with deserves to get the full version of who I am and what I am capable of. This allows me to stay on track as I pursue my vision on the road to completion.IMG_0264

#4: TRUST YOUR ABILITY: God made me for this!

My passion is to create. I have explored many different mediums to produce pieces for projects. What I have learned from this exploration is that some mediums come more naturally for me than others. Even when I am learning a new medium, I have to remind myself that I have the ability to get this. Sometimes I may not grasp the new medium as well as I would like, but I know that if I just continue to trust my ability, I can make progress, even if it is on a future project.

There are times that I need to call upon others for help in getting me to complete my vision. For example, I am not an electrician, but If lighting is part of my completed project then I need to call someone who is. I have found that when I do bring others in, it is helpful for me to sell them on the vision before we begin, then they can see the end result as well. An electrician, or any other professional I employ has a passion that is now a welcomed part of my vision.

A good friend of mine Bill says, “Know what you know, know what you don’t know, and then hire someone who knows what you don’t know.”

Of course I want to learn new things, but I will do that in my spare time, not when I am focused on my goal. Otherwise, I’m off chasing another “rabbit” while my current one is getting away.IMG_0336

#5: PUSH THROUGH TO COMPLETION: Keep moving forward.


Even though I am doing what I love, there are times when I have to keep myself disciplined and push through to completion. Certain aspects of a mural are more appealing to me than others. So when I come to a point in the mural where the task is mundane or unappealing, I take a break. I come back fresh, and keep the overall vision I sketched out next to me and in my mind as I get back to work with renewed vigor.  What this does for me is remind me that everything is completed in steps and this area is just one more step towards my final goal.mural with more paint

#6: DISCIPLINE TRUMPS MOTIVATION: “Motivation is fleeting, discipline will get you to the finish line.”


I view motivation like a piece of paper soaked in lighter fluid, it ignites in a flash, then it is gone when the fuel is burned up. Discipline however, is like a cloth strip soaked in kerosene, it burns hot and goes the distance.

A blog post from author and strongman Jim Wendler had an interesting view on building discipline,”Building discipline by saying you’re going to do something and doing it works whether you’re starting a new career or breaking out of your current job, trying to save money for a future purchase or looking to retire early. Setting small, achievable goals, and then achieving them, helps you build confidence in yourself and succeed in the long run.”close up of courtyard mural

I hope your vision aligns with your passion and you complete your next project with excellence! Let me know your thoughts and leave a comment, and like always I’d love to see whatever project you are working on!

God Bless! Get after it!

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